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How Mahindra & Mahindra is reinventing itself for the digital era

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As a group, the Mahindra & Mahindra has always taken a series of ambitious initiatives throughout its history. For instance, it was one of the first players to start creating electric vehicles, before the concept of electric vehicles became popular. More recently, the group announced the launch of India’s first driverless tractor, an innovation that can lead to improved productivity for farmers. Today, even as India looks to embrace electric vehicles in a big way in an aim to reduce dependence on import of oil, the Mahindra & Mahindra group is placed in a sweet spot.

In this age of digital disruption, the group is tinkering with emerging technologies as an early start can be  a massive competitive advantage. For instance, it was one of the first conglomerates to experiment with Blockchain. The Mahindra & Mahindra Group collaborated with IBM to consider the potential of using Blockchain in supply chain finance. This was a pioneering initiative, as this was one of the first Blockchain-based supply chain finance solution in an industry other than banking.

Being a large conglomerate, the group understands the need of creating new business models using the power of technology. V S Parthasarathy, Group CIO & CFO, Mahindra & Mahindra, echoes the thoughts of his group when he says, “In this age of digital disruption, experiential commerce will change how the customer experiences commerce, which in turn, will have an impact on business models. Organizations have to think on how they can help customers experience a ‘wow’ factor. I want all of our industries to be the trendsetters in the digital world. My vision is that all our 21 industries will be digital world leaders in their own ways, and IT will be our partner in this.”

In this age of digital disruption, experiential commerce will change how the customer experiences commerce, which in turn, will have an impact on business models. Organizations have to think on how they can help customers experience a ‘wow’ factor. I want all of our industries to be the trendsetters in the digital world. My vision is that all our 21 industries will be digital world leaders in their own ways, and IT will be our partner in this
V S Parthasarathy, Group CIO & CFO, Mahindra & Mahindra

As a starting point, the group has already started creating a common integrated customer database of all Mahindra customers. Companies within the group function as part of federated structure, with their own strategic and decision mechanism serving their customers independently. However, this is a digital initiative to consolidate the customer data of various companies, to provide one view to the group.

Parthasarathy says that organizations need to rethink on how their business models must change. “The new world will be B2C – it will not be a world built to last, but it will be a world built to change. Your old cost structure will have no place in the new world, so you have to reset and reboot your costs. Every organization should continue to dramatically think how do we enable business, enhance it, and engender. Seventy per cent of the focus today is on enabling business and 30 per cent on enhancing and engendering, but in the new world, it should be vice versa. In order to be a value creator, organizations will have to commercialize business models of IT in terms of products and solutions, look at the customer as the king and focus on creating immersive digital experiences for them.” The group has started acquiring companies that fit this vision. For example, Tech Mahindra, acquired UK-based firm, The BIO Agency, which specializes in transforming customer experience using digital services.

One of the best examples that explains the group’s thinking is the SYOUV platform which has been designed to help a customer who is currently in the pre-purchase phase. It provides a collection of important information regarding a Mahindra vehicle. It also offers personalized recommendations based on the customer’s actions on the platform. A feature named ‘Talk to Expert’ allows customers to get answers to their queries in real-time through audio/text chat. The ‘3D Discovery’ shows various features of a Mahindra vehicle in a rich 3D format. There is also a ‘Collaborative Exploration’ feature on offer through which, users can invite their friends on Facebook and email to collectively customize Mahindra vehicles. More recently, to help probable customers have a better experience of its e20 Plus electric car, the group is providing virtual reality devices at select dealership outlets to highlight key features of its car.

Predictive maintenance
In the enterprise, the notion of predictive maintenance using IoT is well known. Mahindra & Mahindra has used IoT intelligently to bring in a new level of experience for vehicle owners. The group launched ‘DiGiSENSE’, a platform that connects Mahindra vehicles, tractors, trucks and construction equipment to the cloud, opening up a whole new dimension to the experience of vehicle ownership. This launch made the company the first OEM in India to integrate its product line-up onto a cloud-based technology platform. This platform enables owners, fleet operators, drivers, dealers and service teams to access vital information about their vehicles, trucks, tractors or construction equipment on a real time basis from any location.
“With ‘DigiSense’, it will be the first time in India, that we will be able to do servicing, sales and solutions – all digitally – across our portfolio,” states Parthasarathy.

Similarly, drivers can contact emergency breakdown services or pull up a route planner at the touch of a button, fleet owners and dealers can track the location of their vehicles in real time, while remote diagnostics and reports allow service teams to monitor the vehicle’s health and productivity parameters, on a real time basis.

Taking a cue from Uber and Ola, the group has launched an online platform, SmartShift, that connects cargo owners and transporters. The technology provided by a company incubated by Mahindra & Mahindra, aggregates demand and helps cargo owners find the right transporter or logistics provider based on specific parameters such as weight and shipment size. This has become extremely popular as transparent and competitive pricing is visible to both cargo owners and transporters. It is also possible to track and trace vehicles to ensure safety of cargo.

Tweaking the Uber model, Mahindra has launched agricultural rental equipment services. Using an app (Trinngo), farmers can take on rent tractors and equipments on a pay-per-use basis. Orders can be booked using an app, which are then passed on to the nearest franchisee using location based mapping.

Another innovative app called the ‘With You Hamesha app’ enables customers to check their car’s service history, book a service slot and even create a job card to get an online service estimate. It also allows users to track servicing of their vehicles and establish a video connection with a relationship manager to get real time updates on the service. Customers can also opt to pay the service bill online through the app and can request the vehicle to be delivered to a specific address.


Major Digital Initiatives

  • DiGiSENSE (Connected Vehicle platform): DiGiSENSE is a technology solution that connects Mahindra vehicles, tractors, trucks and construction equipment to the cloud, opening up a whole new
    dimension to the experience of vehicle ownership.Its launch has made the company the first OEM in India to integrate its product line-up onto a cloud-based
    technology platform.
  • Blockchain supply chain financing: Mahindra, along with IBM, is developing a cloud based Blockchain solution for supply chain financing. This is designed to transform supplier-to-manufacturer trade finance transactions through a permissioned distributed ledger. The blockchain-based supply chain finance solution will enable all parties involved in the transaction to act on the same shared ledger, with each party updating only their part of the process, ensuring efficiency, consistency, trust and transparency, while safeguarding sensitive
    information
  • SmartShift: SmartShift is a technology enabled load exchange platform. SmartShift will act as an exchange platform for cargo owners and transporters, enabling them to work with each other. Cargo owners (both
    businesses and individual users) can access the SmartShift service through a world class mobile app (available on Android), the website or the dedicated call centre.
  • Trringo: Trringo is a first-of-its-kind tractor and farm equipment rental business that aims to raise the level of mechanization in Indian farming. Not every farmer can afford his own tractor. Small farmers ask for tractors from the few who own those, leading to uncertainty, compromise on quality of tractors or equipment, and often, disappointment. That’s where Trringo comes into the picture.
    Now, whenever farmers need a tractor or any farm equipment, they can simply call Trringo, or use its mobile app, and place their order. They will receive a well-maintained tractor along with a professional driver with utmost ease. Not only can they get their work done in a stress-free manner, with consistent use of mechanisation, their productivity increases too.
  • With You Hamesha: With You Hamesha platform is aimed at improving post-sales customer satisfaction levels. Through the With You Hamesha app, customers can check their car’s service history, book a service slot and even create a job card to get an online service estimate. It also allows users to track servicing of their vehicles and establish a video connection with a relationship manager to get real time updates on the service. Customers can also opt to pay the service bill online through the app and can request the vehicle to be delivered to a specific address.
  • SYOUV: The SYOUV platform is designed to help a customer who is currently in the pre-purchase phase. It provides a collection of important information regarding a Mahindra vehicle. It also offers personalized recommendations based on the customer’s actions on the platform. A feature named ‘Talk to Expert’ allows customers to get answers to their queries in real-time through audio/text chat. The ‘3D Discovery’ shows various features of a Mahindra vehicle in a rich 3D format. There is also a ‘Collaborative Exploration’ feature on offer through which, users can invite their friends on Facebook and email to  collectively customize Mahindra vehicles.

The future
The most striking aspect about Mahindra’s digital transformation vision is that the group is taking an innovative approach and is willing to tweak established digital models to the market it serves. The digital world needs quick adaptation and willingness to learn from different industries. This is a world as Parthasarathy describes, ‘a world built to change’, and companies who consistently and quickly adapt will lead. The Mahindra & Mahindra group has shown this agility by willing to partner with startups and create innovative business models using the power of technology.

 


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